“Building a new pricing application using Microsoft technologies enabled us to cut quoting time from hours to minutes. Employees can now provide better, more responsive customer service.”
Owen Coppage, Chief Information Officer, AGL Energy Limited
AGL Energy Limited is one of Australia’s largest and most well-known energy companies, and the country’s largest private owner, operator and developer of renewable power generation assets. Established in Sydney in 1837 as The Australian Gas Light Company,
AGL was one of the first Australian companies to be listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (formerly the Australian Stock Exchange). It serves more than 3.4 million commercial, industrial and residential customers.
As part of a broader technology project, AGL wanted to upgrade and consolidate its numerous legacy pricing applications for commercial and industrial customers. AGL’s sales employees used these applications – which were more than 10 years old and required
a lot of manual intervention – to calculate energy prices and generate quotes for customers. The existing systems experienced regular downtime, did not integrate with AGL’s customer relationship management (CRM) and billing systems, and were difficult to customise.
AGL built a new web-based pricing application based on Microsoft technologies, including Windows Communication Foundation. This powerful system has helped AGL reduce the time it takes to generate quotes from up to three hours to just a few minutes. Increased
flexibility allows AGL to quickly update its pricing calculation formulas to reflect market changes such as the introduction of the carbon tax. The pricing system experiences no downtime, which has improved employee satisfaction and allows employees to provide
better customer service.
||We can easily adapt the new pricing system according to the changing energy market. When the market changes, we’ll be ready.
| Owen Coppage
Chief Information Officer,
AGL Energy Limited
AGL operates in the competitive and rapidly changing energy market and must provide a high-quality service to compete effectively.
As part of a broader project to simplify its technical environment and improve customer service, AGL planned to upgrade around 40 applications, including its CRM, billing and pricing systems. The company services around 18,000 business customers through
As part of this project, AGL wanted to upgrade its existing pricing applications for commercial and industrial customers. The company had used these systems for more than 10 years, and they were no longer supported.
For around 12 months, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) – AGL’s IT partner and Microsoft Gold Certified Partner – kept these pricing systems running. However, they experienced downtime almost on a daily basis. Between March 2009 and September 2011, the company’s
existing application was unavailable for an average of around 35 hours per month. This made it difficult for employees to do their jobs effectively.
“Our existing systems were highly unpredictable, unstable and manual, and very frustrating for our salespeople to work with,” says Owen Coppage, Chief Information Officer, AGL Energy Limited.
AGL’s pricing applications didn’t integrate effectively with its multiple CRM and billing systems. Employees generated quotes and then manually uploaded data into a CRM system. This contributed to extended quote turnaround times –it often took employees
up to three hours to generate a single quote.
“Our existing systems were having a negative impact on employee productivity and engagement, and employees were understandably frustrated,” adds Coppage.
AGL’s existing pricing applications could not be customised, which meant they did not reflect the company’s evolving processes and changes in the market. The applications used fixed prices and formulas to calculate quotes, and AGL had to engage the IT team
to change existing formulas.
AGL also needed a system that was flexible enough to accommodate changes in government policy. On 1 July 2012, the Australian Government introduced a carbon tax that requires around 500 large businesses to track their carbon output. AGL needed to be able
to calculate the carbon output of its customers affected by this legislation, and accommodate future policy changes.
Finally, it was difficult for AGL employees to trace old quotes. “Information in the existing pricing applications could be accidentally overwritten by employees generating new quotes,” says Coppage. “It became difficult for our salespeople – and auditors
– to view historical data.”
In 2009, AGL decided to build its own system and, in conjunction with TCS, considered a number of options. TCS recommended a solution built on Microsoft technologies, because it would be easily customisable and would integrate seamlessly with AGL’s existing
Between February 2010 and September 2011, TCS designed and implemented the new pricing system. TCS built the web-based application using Microsoft Windows Communication Foundation – part of the .NET Framework – which provides a flexible framework for rapidly
building and connecting service-oriented applications.
TCS also used Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5, Microsoft Practices Enterprise Library 4.1 and Visual Studio 2008 Professional Edition during development. The back end of AGL’s pricing application runs on Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Enterprise and Windows Server
2008 R2 Enterprise. It uses SQL Server Integration Services to communicate with the Market Data Repository to obtain market electricity and gas prices.
AGL’s new pricing application is a flexible and stable solution that enables employees to generate quotes faster and provide customers with more responsive service.
“We were confident that the combination of TCS’s services and Microsoft technologies would give us the result we needed,” says Coppage. “The service TCS provided was excellent – the system was implemented ahead of schedule, the transition for employees was
smooth and we experienced very few post-implementation issues.”
Dramatically reduced time to generate quotes
AGL has reduced the time it takes to generate a customer quote from up to three hours to just two to three minutes.
“Our employees can now deliver a quote to a customer while they’re on the phone with them,” says Coppage. “This helps reduce the risk of losing customers and prospects while they are waiting for a quote.”
Provided a robust, reliable system to support future growth
Since the system was implemented in September 2011, it has not experienced any downtime. The system currently processes up to 250 requests per minute, but can handle up to 2,000, so there is capacity for growth.
||I am confident the Microsoft pricing application will meet the business’s current and future requirements, and will help us maintain our high level of customer service.
| Owen Coppage
Chief Information Officer,
AGL Energy Limited
Will allow AGL to easily customise the system
The Microsoft pricing application uses a series of rules rather than hard-coded data so sales staff can generate quotes using the same formulas across different industries. Administrators can easily update these formulas.
“Algorithms are stored in a time-slice manner,” says Krishnendu Chatterjee, Project Manager, Tata Consultancy Services. “If energy prices are due to change in two months, for example, the new application will incorporate that into future quotes.”
AGL can now also customise the system to calculate new costs such as carbon pricing. “We can easily adapt the new pricing system according to the changing energy market,” says Coppage. “When the market changes, we’ll be ready.”
Provided a stronger audit trail
AGL’s new pricing application records all relevant formulas for each company, and the date they came into effect. This enables AGL to recalculate previous quotes in minutes.
“The new pricing system has allowed us to maintain a more transparent audit trail,” says Coppage. “I am confident the Microsoft pricing application will meet the business’s current and future requirements, and will help us maintain our high level of customer
Microsoft Product that was featured
Microsoft Windows Communication Foundation is part of the .NET Framework. It provides a unified programming model for rapidly building service-oriented applications that communicate across the web and the enterprise.
To find out more about the Microsoft .NET Framework and Windows Communication Foundation, please visit